Just Hiking with the Guys

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Life has become complicated lately. “Become.” I laugh as I write that, as if life is ever not complicated for anyone. Interesting though, that whatever you’re going through at whatever age or stage of life, you feel as if you are the first and only person to experience it…but then maybe you are. Only you can experience anything your way.

My sons are almost grown. One foot out the door, as they say. It’s a complicated feeling for me. I’ve spent the last 18 years being a Mom and not just any Mom, a hands-on (or, more precisely, hands-off) radically unschooling mom. I’ve attempted to be their supporter and experienced friend instead of an authoritarian and I feel like just when they’ve grown to the point of being great friends to have around, they are beginning to do what all young adults are born to do, drift away to find a place of their own.

It’s bitter sweet, both harsh and rewarding to see my life’s work come to fruition. And when my heart behaves itself, I can see how life will progress. They will establish themselves as free and independent adults, capable of handling life without a parent to support them, and then they’ll come back as strong equals. They’ll be better friends to me than they ever could be now.

It’ll be wonderful and I look forward to seeing the men they become. But transitions are complicated. It’s two steps forward and one step back. There are days when I’m amazed by them and days where I wonder where I went horribly wrong.

In the long run, I know where it will end up. Their Dad and I will be gone, and they will have families of their own to continue into the future. Life.

Laundry Magic

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

“Clothes don’t clean themselves, you know!” I heard my mother’s exasperated voice make that statement more than once growing up. She was always so despondent about it and I could never understand why. I mean, seriously, what is so difficult about gathering laundry, throwing it in the washing machine, and then getting it out again? Then I had children.

Laundry is best done daily. That is a plain and simple fact. In a family of six people, if you let a day or two go between loads, you’ll never get on top of it again. Imagine a lumberjack walking a log in a river and you’ll get the picture. One wrong step and the log rolls out from under you. Splash!

It starts with gathering the clothes. You’d think that would be the easy part, but children seem to love a good game of “Hide the Socks” or “Stuff the Favorite Sweatshirt in a Corner.” And the good Lord help you if she manages to put her best jeans in the laundry and they aren’t out of the dryer before her date.

Every morning, I pull my trusty pop-up laundry basket from under my bed, push out the bottom so that it’s fully extended and make my rounds gathering the load of the day. I start in the kitchen with the damp towels, cloth napkins, and wash cloths from the day before. Nothing smells worse than damp towels in a laundry hamper, so I have kept them out on purpose. I make a quick glance around the livingroom as I pass by just in case a pair of wet socks or soaked jacket was left by the fireplace to dry.

The kids’ bedrooms are next on the agenda. A pair of jeans, a piece of a work uniform, or sweaty gym shorts may be hiding from me in there. I grab them up and throw them into my basket. Sheets and bath towels will be gathered another day.

There is a laundry hamper in their bathroom. Thankfully most of their clothes are in there. They all share a bathroom and usually throw their clothes in the hamper after they shower. I reach in and pull out the items I’m going to wash that day. Dark cottons, white socks and shirts, blue jeans, or uniforms, get tossed into my basket depending on the day.

Last on my list is our hamper. My husband and I have our own bathroom and it has plenty of room for a nice big hamper with partitions for sorting laundry as we change our clothes, that is if my husband thinks of it as he gets ready for bed. I frequently find a white sock in the dark cotton bin and wet towels from a garage project stuffed in with the jeans. Ahh…the life.

With my rounds done, my basket full, I make my way out the laundry room. The laundry room for our house seems to have been added on to the back of the detached garage as an afterthought. City water and power didn’t come to our rural area until the 80’s. This house was built as a small cabin in the 60’s. It has been added on to over the years and I can just see the previous owner and his wife’s conversation.

“Wilma, the county is going to run a water line to our property next year. What do you say about adding a bathroom and a kitchen to that house and living there full time?”

“Sounds wonderful Fred, but I’m not going unless there is a washer and dryer indoors like our house in the city!”

A year later, he leads his lovely wife into the upgraded house. The kitchen is small but lovely. The bathrooms are functional and stylish for the era. She searches the house for the laundry room he promised and can’t find it.

“Fred, what did you do?”

“Right back here, dear! You said indoors!”

She follows him as he excitedly leads her out the back porch door, across the driveway, and around to the back of the garage, pushes the door open in front of her and says, “Surprise!”

It’s a bit of a walk but this is the desert and rarely is there ever any bad weather. I doubt that’s what she meant when she said “indoor laundry room” but he’s so proud. How can she be anything but excited?

I make that trek across the driveway and around the garage myself several times a day. I start my daily load of laundry early in the morning after my shower. I open the sliding glass door with my laundry basket on my hip and head out. Cottontail bunnies that have found the tufts of grass growing around my drain scatter as I walk by.

The laundry room runs across the entire back of my two-car garage. It’s an impressive laundry room. It doubles as a storage room. When you walk in you see the wall to the left of the door covered with built in storage cabinets filled with my holiday decorations, old files, and boxes of unwanted toys that my kids just can bear to part with. Fishing poles and tackle boxes, extra chairs, and an old dresser filled with wrapping paper line the wall to my right. And at the end stand my lovely bright aqua colored front-loading washer and dryer.

That set is a story in and of itself. When we moved here the house didn’t come with a washer and dryer, so we drove down into town to the big box hardware store to see what they had. There were boring white and silver sets, but the aqua one was so beautiful. I had to have it. My husband loves me very much, even if I do get a tad over excited about colorful appliances.

I drop my loaded basket to the floor in front of the washer and start throwing in the clothes, double checking for any forgotten change, papers, and pens left behind in pockets. I slam the door shut and open the soap drawer at the top. I have my liquid laundry soap container conveniently located on top of the washer right above the soap drawer. All I need to do is open the drawer and push the button to fill the cup the suggested “serving” of soap line inside the drawer. I slide the drawer shut, set the washer dial to “Perm. Press” and the water temperature to “cold” and press the start button.

Before I leave, I wait just a minute to be sure I hear the door lock and the water start to run before I head back into the house. My washer takes about one hour to run through its wash cycle, so I have some time to get a few things done before it’s time to come back out. I plant myself down on the couch with my book and a cup of coffee. It’s still early and there are no children up yet to beg for a tasty breakfast or ask me to help them construct a wild project in the back yard.

An hour later, the alarm on my phone starts to ring and I shut my book and head back out to the laundry room. The bunnies haven’t come back but a roadrunner flicks his tail and flies up into a Joshua Tree as I pass by.

The washer isn’t quite done with its spin cycle, so I take a seat on a folding chair next to the window and watch the desert as a quiet meditation as I wait. My washer’s sweet musical notes startle me when the cycle ends. I must have been deep in thought, but most likely I just dozed off for a moment.

I open the washer door and transfer the wet clothes into the waiting dryer that stands open and waiting. Damn. I missed an ID card that was in my son’s pocket. Luckily it’s hard plastic and unharmed by the washer. I slip into my back pocket and finish putting the load in the dryer.

I slam the dryer door shut and spin the selector at the top to a timed dryer cycle, “60 minutes” and “low.” The dryer has so many different settings for every kind of clothing you might have. It looks like the cockpit of an airplane with all its dials, settings, and buttons. They’ve never been used by me. I’m a simple girl!

Once I press “go,” I’ve got another hour before these clothes need my attention. I head into the house as I set the timer on my phone again. I always set the timer. If I don’t the laundry will never get done. I’m notorious for losing track of time. My children are constantly on me about how long things take when I’m in control. They’ve heard “It’ll only take a minute. Come on!” and “I’ll be home in an hour.” a thousand times. They know how I operate and usually add on another hour to however long I say it will take.

I take the long way around the garage and through the front yard to the front door this time and enter the house through the kitchen. While the laundry is drying, I’ll wash the dishes and listen to a podcast, and then make everyone breakfast. Pancakes sound perfect for a day like this!

The alarm goes off on my phone and my youngest follows me out the laundry room to help. We move the basket to the front of the dryer and he pulls all the socks and underwear out into the basket while I pull out the shirts and lay them neatly across the top of dryer so they don’t get wrinkled. Once the dryer is empty, my son pulls out the lint trap and taps the piled up lint into the trash can waiting beside the dryer. He has trouble putting it back in but gets after a bit of work. I lay the shirts across the top of the basket and lift it up to my hip. My son gets the door and we walk back to the house to fold and put away our clean stuff.

My sons love to sort out the socks when I bring in a clean load of laundry. I get the shirts off the top of the basket, lay them out on the bed, and get some hangers from the closet. While I hang them up, they dump out the rest of the basket and grab up their own socks, match them up, and take them to their rooms along with the underwear.

An empty basket sits on my bed, so I flip it over and collapse it upon itself, drop it to the floor and slide it under my bed. Another morning load of laundry in the books. Let’s get a cookie!

Anyone Out There?

I’ve been feeling a bit disconnected lately. Ok, maybe just today. I had a great weekend but some pieces of it fell short of what I had hoped. Some pieces exceeded my expectations! Honestly, I just want to connect with real people lately over real things.

Is anyone really out there? I mean, really? It seems that we’re all talking to the walls. I’m having a mental breakdown on the internet lately. I’ve always been firmly in the camp of ‘the internet brings people together,’ but lately…sheesh…people!

The internet does connect people. Most of the people I know right now I met online through first Yahoo groups and then Facebook. I’ve used it as a beacon to find like minded or at least like scheduled people to get together with.

My first use of the internet to meet people was joining Yahoo groups to find other local mom’s and meet up for park days. “Playgroups” were awesome back then. It made going to the park so much more fun because you knew there would be other mom’s to talk to and the kids would have friends to play with. We met every week, rain or shine. We’d move it indoors if it were too cold or wet outside. And eventually we moved it to each other’s homes. We all bonded over the kids and their crazy antics. I still know those people thanks to Facebook.

Yahoo groups also introduced me to my first homeschool park day. I met those families every week, too. We’d meet at the same park at the same time, kids in tow, with picnic lunches and lawn chairs. We had the most fun there. Again, I still know some of those families. I’ve recently learned that homeschoolers don’t really do this anymore and it just breaks my heart.

My sons have made friends of their own on social media. And, yes, they are real people with real lives and some of them we have met in person now.

It’s been overall a pretty positive experience. But lately…

It’s as if people are only there to argue. Most people don’t really read a post. Several times now I’ve asked for specific answers to questions from a personal point of view and all I get is someone “googling it for me” or telling me why I should do something else. If I post that I’m looking for a friend, lovers raise their hands. If I say, “Does anyone read books?” I get “Movies are better!”

You know what I’d like right now? I’d regular park day to hang out at, a weekly thing that we all bring lunch to and sit and talk to each other. I’d like a monthly book club where everyone reads something and shares it over coffee and we all freely associate what we’re reading with what everyone else is reading, or just spend time laughing about not having time to finish any book. I’d like to have people over every Saturday afternoon for a potluck.

Host those things! That’s what you’re thinking. I have. I have done most of them fairly regularly over the years, but people don’t come anymore. They all say they will. They all say they’d love to. But when the day comes they flake out and I’m stuck sitting there alone, more depressed than before I started. I just don’t have the emotional fortitude to sit at a booth at IHOP waiting for all those people that said they’d be there, only to get a message an hour later that they aren’t going to make it after all. It’s just a lot of effort and I’m tired.

I’m not sure what to do about it. I’m not sure if there is anything to do about it.

Battles

Something I’ve found very true over the last several years is that people really love their labels and will fight you to the death to keep them.

The biggest battles I’ve heard between good people are over who is a “real” Christian, homeschooler, vegan, etc., and who is not. There are millions of other labels out there. I’m sure you can think of a few that you put on yourself.

I was warned years ago, not to put labels on my children as we raised them without school. We learned to look at that individual child, their likes and dislikes, their quirks, their preferences, their patterns, and love them. We supported them to get they wanted or needed, not because that’s how this label needs things, but because that’s how this particular child learns best at this moment in time.

This past month I’ve been looking at and discovering some new ways of living and relating. I instantly began to label myself and as I looked at that label and the myriad of different people that choose that label, I started to feel bad about myself because I didn’t seem to measure up. I wasn’t “real.”

And that’s when I saw it. Labels really do suck. They tie you down to a prescribed list of details that may or may not relate to you, that may not help you at all but hinder you because you can’t wrap your head around that part of the label.

I dropped the label in my mind. I stopped following and attempting to join groups that called themselves by that label and suddenly I felt so much better.

I’m not a “real” anything but the “real” Michelle.

I saw a post about Tinker Bell this morning and my own bell rung. Imagine Charlie Brown talking to Lucy about phobias. “THAT’S IT!” I love it when I have moments like that. I posted the image and returned to comment, and that’s what led me to this post. Yep…animated fantasy movie characters get my mind going.

Here’s the image.

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Whenever I’m in a bad mood, when I’m feeling a bit grumpy and reactive, a little attention goes a long way. You may not need to change anything, fix anything, teach anything; just give me a little attention. “I know your mad.”, “What’s wrong?”, or even “You’re beautiful.”, will generally fix things with me. It gives me the power to resolve the situation myself. My sons are great at this. When they are doing big things, things teens have to do if they are going to move out into the world as adults, I get scared and sometimes I feel neglected. They sit and hug me, ask me about my fears and objections. They listen. And then they go do what they were going to do anyway. They do take into account my feelings, but I know that ultimately, they will do what they believe is best for them. Personally, I think it is the hardest stage of parenting so far.

But wait there’s more!

One of my friends said she didn’t like Tink, that she thought she was a “jerk.” This was my initial response.

“She’s a jerk because she’s passionate, protective, and independent. She’s beautiful and unsure of herself. Jealous to a fault. She’s small and mighty and fearful of being left behind. Her “meanness” is what you see but her motives…are beautiful. She needs to be loved and she’ll die if she doesn’t get that love. She needs unconditional love, not the kind that only hangs around if she’s sweet and gentle.”

All behavior is a symptom of someone’s feelings. We can’t help the way we feel about things. I’m having a hard time explaining this. I keep writing out the words and backing up. Let me start again.

Behavior is what we do when we feel something. It’s a trained action that starts in childhood. I feel cold and I grab a blanket. It might be someone else’s blanket. You might say, “Hey, that person is a jerk. They stole my blanket!” or you could think, “Why did that person steal my blanket?” That question might lead you to understand that the person was cold and needed to be warm. The only thing they have learned to do is take the first blanket they see.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “This woman is nuts. We can’t condone stealing because someone needs something. That’s anarchy!” I’m not condoning anything. I don’t need to think it’s ok for her to take my blanket because she’s cold, but I can understand and not be angry at that person. I can also lovingly ask why she took it and show compassion so she learns better behavior. There are very few people in this world that deliberately do things just to be mean. Almost everyone wants to be socially accepted and loved.

It could go like this.

“Why did you take my blanket? It belongs to me!”

“I’m cold and need one.”

“Well, so am I. It’s not ok to take things without permission, but I can see why you need one.”

“I need a blanket and you already have one, can afford another one, or I don’t care that you are cold.”

“Let’s see how we can get your own blanket without taking one from me by force.”

And you go off to buy her one of her own, help her find one from a charity, or buy one as a gift because you can and you love the person she is.

You know what she learns? Her needs are important and so are other people’s.

So, what does this have to do with Tinker Bell being a jerk? Tinker Bell is “acting out” as they say. She’s exhibiting nasty behaviors to get what she wants because she has learned no other way. She craves Peter’s attention and now he’s giving it to that damn Wendy. She’s jealous and rightly so, since Wendy wants Peter to leave Neverland and grow up.

There are lots of Tinker Bell’s in our life. Our children, our parents, our friends, our lovers, they all exhibit behavior we are not fond of. My children throw a temper tantrum over not being able to finish a movie before bed. My mother texts me a thousand times about where I’ve been. My friend doesn’t call me back because I forget her birthday. My lover is slamming doors and sulking. They are all symptoms of feelings and needs. What if we decided to look around the behavior and seek out what those needs are instead of punishing the behavior? If we knew what the need was, maybe it’d be easier to understand the behavior and help that loved one find a better way of getting their needs met.

Poor Tink. We see her as beautiful and filled with light. She can fly and make others fly, too! What more could you ask for? But really, she’s like all of us. She’s small and vulnerable and doesn’t know her own power. Peter could help her see that if he weren’t a child himself. Wendy does catch a glimpse of it but maybe she’s just too wrapped up in herself at the moment to help.

There’s so much more. I’d like to read the book again and focus on Tinker Bell’s point of view.

A Piece of the Puzzle

Something I’ve learned recently is that we can’t and should not try to change people. We should accept them exactly as they are.

“Don’t be so negative/positive.”

“Smile more!”

“Don’t eat that!”

“You should spend more time meditating, exercising, getting into nature.”

“Socialize! It’s good for you.”

Accept that person as they are if you want to be around them. If you can’t, or just don’t want to, that’s fine too. Find someone else to hang out with.

Other side? If someone doesn’t want to be around you, accept it and move on. They aren’t bad people, you just don’t fit together. They are another piece of the puzzle that fit somewhere else in the same picture. We are all connected somehow and equally important just the way we are.

The “Evil” of Smart Phones

Ahh, the perennial post about the evils of smartphones. Apparently, they are ruining our relationships and destroying our children’s minds because they don’t have the skills to cope with their use. Really? I find that line of thinking so strange. I quickly started to comment out of rage against such thinking and then stopped before I hit send. I copied it to a memo on my phone, added more in a couple of minutes, and then put it away to finish eating my breakfast and make something for my son before he left for work. I talked to them about what I heard and my reaction. They could see I had passionate feelings about it and told me they thought I might be overreacting. There are always going to be people like that, people that are afraid of new things, people that have a harder time seeing the future or coping with changes. “Let it go,” my young adult son tells me, “Focus on the positive.”

But here I am, an hour later, still upset. I decided to journal about it. Maybe it’ll be a blog post. Oh, who am I trying to kid! Of course, it will be a blog post!

I copied the initial response and shared it to myself from my phone so that I could have it on my computer. I can type better and edit easier with all my fingers. And here I am, thinking about it and wondering how to put my thoughts into positive words.

First of all, about 90% of my current friends I met online through Yahoo groups on the computer in the early 2000’s and on Facebook on my phone in the second decade. If it weren’t for those groups, I’d be a lonely mess. I’d have met far fewer people that share my interests and I’d never would have gotten the help I needed for my anxiety. Our whole lifestyle changed for the better because I was able to search for answers on the internet.

Second, smartphones made our education style way more exciting. While out in the world, we can search for answers on the spot. We can find friends to meet, places to go, food to eat, directions, and more information about the thing we are looking at and curious about at that moment. It has enhanced our lives in a million ways! And I can stay connected to my friends and family at the same time. My Mother-in-law can call me for help wherever I am. My husband can know when we’ll be home. My brother can share his life with us from the other side of the country. And my Dad can meet us for pizza any day. Smartphones connect us to people. That’s who’s on the other end of the phone. Real people.

And another thing…I think I’ll file this under “rants”…humans crave attention, connection to other people. Smartphones can give that to them. Children can and will learn to navigate the world with the phones by using them. They will do so much better than us because they grew up with them, just like we are better at computers than our parents because we grew up using them. Instead of their own family and the neighbors to associate with, they have the whole world at their fingertips. If your children are more interested in their phones than their family, then make your family more inviting maybe? Maybe connect with them via the phone and more. I text my sons from across the room. I text my husband when he’s out in the garage. I share funny things I find online. And when we eat dinner, sometimes one of them answers a message because there is a person they care about on the other end. Sometimes the phone will ring and I’ll look at it and decide whether it’s urgent or not. I don’t discourage that. Why would I? What if my son’s girlfriend’s car broke down or my Mom was headed to the hospital? Should I ignore the call for help because I’m having dinner with my husband?

Yes, we are still adjusting to the new media. We’re inventing new social standards. And there are crappy people on the internet too. But, overall, the world is better for smart phones. We are better people because we have them.

Smartphones are not ruining your relationships. YOU are ruining your relationships with your phone, just like you could with anything else. The objects aren’t doing it. You are. And we all were ruining our relationships before phones with sports, alcohol, hobbies, cars, books, tv, etc. Everyone has an escape mechanism. Don’t blame the object. Change your behavior.

Window Into Our World

I’ll be re-sharing some of my favorite posts from my old blog from time to time. This one is from a couple of years ago, but I felt it really captured my feelings still.

I have to record the most awesome motocross weekend ever, from the Mom’s point of view anyway!

This series the boys have upped the ante so to speak and moved to the “expert” track. This alone was a feat of strength. They’ve been riding motocross for about a year now and weren’t really winning all that much on the “amateur” track but they figured, why waste time mastering the smaller track when they could be losing and gaining experience on the same track the pro’s use. The reaction from their friends was enough to spur them on. They were all excited and amazed that they would even try it. So there we were lined up for our first moto on the big track. That’s when I got nervous. What if they shouldn’t be there? What if they embarrassed themselves? What if they crashed? The gate dropped and those “novice” riders came roaring down the track with my boys in the back. My stomach dropped. We were way out of our league. The second gate dropped and the next race started and they began to catch up to my boys. Watching Jake ride was inspiring though. He looked like he was having the time of his life. Every jump was loose and every turn and slide was controlled. He wasn’t THAT far behind. But Tom looked like he was in fear of his very life. Stiff and rigid as he made every turn and each jump he just rolled it. He never made the last lap before they ended the race. I had to hold back tears the whole time.

There is some back story here. Three weeks ago we had a friend come and give them some tips and they rode the main track at another place. They were flying and very happy, ready for the “big time”. One week later, we went for another practice, this time on the main track we were going to race at next. They didn’t do so well here. I think they were intimidated by the fast riders on a Wednesday morning and lost faith in themselves. During the last round, Tom crashed, not a bad one by motocross standards but a good one for him. It was over a jump and he left the bike and came flying down the jump without it, landing on his back, rolling hard. He strained his back and fractured his wrist. We decided to baby that wrist to give it time to heal before the next race. Maybe that wasn’t a good idea because he didn’t ride those two weeks, he only did some strength training. We knew going there this weekend that he wouldn’t do well in the race for several reasons. The combination of the new track and level, and the fact that he was still healing from his injury and hadn’t ridden in awhile was pretty much cutting out all hopes of racing well. Jake on the other hand was ready. He’d been practicing and working out and was mentally ready for this race. And he did amazingly well. I’ve never seen him more confident. I feel bad that the focus leaned toward Tom and his problems when Jake had put in just as much work. But as always, the squeaky wheel, right? We kept praising Jake as much as we could without making Tom feel too bad. It felt strange because for the last year, it has been the other way around!

Back to this weekend’s race. Friday evening Tom comes down with a sore throat and a stuffy nose. He felt pretty crappy on Saturday morning as we finished loading up and headed for the track. What else can go wrong?

Saturday was a decent day of practice. The weather was perfect. The track wasn’t too crowded. But Tom wasn’t feeling it. In hindsight, you could feel his tension building but I thought it was just his cold keeping him low key. We registered for the next day’s race after practice and were encouraged by the TWMX staff about moving to the big track. Our usual after Race Day Eve rituals commenced.

Sunday morning we woke up to rain, as was expected. We waited for them to cancel the race, but they didn’t. It wasn’t a heavy rain so the track wasn’t flooded, just muddy, and it was supposed to start letting up at 8am just as practice was starting. By the time the races started it was looking nice. We got the schedule…the last race of the day! And the waiting began.

Both the boys took turns riding over to the track and watching, seeing where they were in the line of races. Tom always takes so much longer to come back because he stops and talks to people. The combination of his friendly and outgoing nature and his cool vintage pit bike leads him to conversations with people all along the track and pits. It’s fun to watch him. He introduces his brother and drags him along to talk with people sometimes, but Jake is much more comfortable at his camp or riding. The high point of his socializing is to joke and tell the rider next to him at the gate to slow down a bit and not make him look so bad! His sense of humor catches you off guard because he’s usually so quiet.

So there we were, the first moto in the books and it didn’t look good at all for Tom. Jake was happily sipping his cool sports drink and eating a hot dog while Tom was silently freaking out. It’s hard when your kids are going through something like this. I wanted so much to help but really didn’t know how. Talking about it, going over what happened, seemed to be making it worse. I felt like talking it out would be helpful (for me) but then I thought maybe just putting it behind him would be better, look to the next one. He was going on about the mud and not feeling well. Maybe he had the suspension set wrong. What was he doing wrong? But we could tell it was fear. He didn’t see it. He wasn’t jumping and speeding because he was afraid of crashing again. He needed to put THAT behind him. What do you do? I went to congratulate Jake on his performance and then looked at Facebook to occupy myself and give him space.

We had about an hour before the next moto, so Jake went to see how things were going at the track and I suggested to Tom that he meditate, clear his mind of anxiety. He agreed and settled into deep breathing. And then we headed back for the next round.

We got there a bit early this time so we had about a half an hour to stand around and watch. Jake was chomping at the bit to get out there. He just loves being out on the track! He said that the running and climbing as cross training is really working because the moto’s aren’t wiping him out anymore. He could have done that for hours. And it was so awesome to see him so proud of the work he put into it. Tom needed more time alone. I held his bike while he stood at that fence and watched the other races take off. A Dad of a friend of his came up and talked to him for a bit and I watched him relax. He needs to know people think he can do this. That little bit of fame pushes him on. That man was a gift from God.

When we got to the gate, he swept, packed down the dirt, got ready. He said he was going to just ride to finish and not fall, focus on not falling. His breathing was short. He already looked stiff. In a moment of inspiration I told him to not focus on that. No, is what I said. Remember the breathing, roll your shoulders back, open up the chest, shake out your arms, legs, and head. Focus on your confidence. You CAN do this. You have landed this a thousand times. You’re all alone, look out ahead, and have fun. He shook his head yes and the starter took his place. I ran off to the side with Dan. I highly doubted it would help. He was pretty scared. The gate dropped and both the boys were out there in the middle of the pack. Jake was a bit behind. They rounded corners and made the jumps just like that first practice. It was amazing. I couldn’t help but yell out, “That’s my boy! That’s what they LOVE!” You could see it in their riding. You could feel it as they passed by. My heart soared with them.

Now…before you go thinking that they had magically went faster and moved up in the ranks of riders, they were still in last place. They did significantly faster laps, but so did everyone else. The track was more dried out and most usually do better on their second moto. It was the attitude that was different. They were matched in their joy and excitement of making the laps. Now they just have to work on speed. That will come with practice.

After the race, they always get back to camp first. They are on bikes and we’re walking. But as we walked up, the attitude at camp was WAY better than the last time. Jake was already packing up bikes and tools. He used to have to take a good long rest before he even started to move after a race. Tom was all thumbs up, running over to us. He was almost crying. He hugged me and told me it worked and I’m the best mom for helping him. And then I almost cried! Dan was so proud of us. It was a pretty awesome moment. We all talked about how great it was and loaded up, got dressed, put away all that muddy gear, and headed for home!

I’m amazed at my children. They are brave, confident, brilliant, and talented. As much as I dislike motocross, I cannot imagine life without their craziness. Since this is the race weekend from my perspective, I’ll tell you what I learned most, the admiration of two boys that push themselves to the limit of their abilities by sheer will power. I don’t like this sport. I’d love it if they decided that it was enough now and move on to something cheaper and safer. But I see it through their eyes and I’m just as excited as they are. I’m seeing where they could go and what they can do with the skills they are learning. I’m making plans in my mind about races across the country, two brothers and a box truck! I’m seeing factory teams, personal tracks, and watching them on TV and in sports magazines. But I’ll be happy seeing them play at it all their lives, find work that keeps them fed, and wives that support their crazy dreams. I can see them getting bikes for their kids and doing it all over again. Deep sighs for this momma.

Right now, the day after, I’m in awe. I’m relieved that we are home safe, no one came home injured. I’m happy we left the track on a high note for both my babies. I’m thankful that my amazing husband supports this craziness even though I’m sure he’d rather be doing a thousand other things with his time and money. I’m looking forward and planning the next practice day. And I’m terrified of the next race in two weeks. It will never stop scaring the crap out of me every time they head out there, but how can I let my fear get in the way of their joy? I think I’ll make cookies in their honor and just bask in their glory today.